John Muir Trail Day 10: Kearsarge Pass to Guitar Lake

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“Mountains seem to answer an increasing imaginative need in the West. More and more people are discovering a desire for them, and a powerful solace in them. At bottom, mountains, like all wildernesses, challenge our complacent conviction – so easy to lapse into – that the world has been made for humans by humans. Most of us exist for most of the time in worlds which are humanly arranged, themed and controlled. One forgets that there are environments which do not respond to the flick of a switch or the twist of a dial, and which have their own rhythms and orders of existence. Mountains correct this amnesia. By speaking of greater forces than we can possibly invoke, and by confronting us with greater spans of time than we can possibly envisage, mountains refute our excessive trust in the man-made. They pose profound questions about our durability and the importance of our schemes. They induce, I suppose, a modesty in us.”  ― Robert Macfarlane


Read More Daily Reports From The John Muir Trail


We returned to the John Muir Trail by heading back over Kearsarge Pass after a resupply. We made it just in time to avoid the storm on the way out, and were heading back to the trail with nothing but dry skies in the forecast. From the Kearsarge Pass trailhead, the path leads downhill towards Bubbs Creek and Vidette Meadow. We got a really early start on this day and stumbled upon a buck sleeping just off of the trail. The landscape here is dominated by the beautiful East Vidette Peak. I would love to come back here someday soon and make the scramble up to the summit.

John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
East Vidette Peak

After reaching the end of the downhill hiking, we reached a flat section that meandered through the forest. It quickly began to climb, and we found ourselves looking out onto the beautiful Upper Vidette Meadow. The tree cover diminished as we gained elevation when we reached the 10,000ft elevation sign. I was excited for the next seven miles that would take us to Forester Pass at 13,110ft.

John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
Entering the Meadow
John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
Onto The Water

Our next point of interest was Center Basin Creek. It was a special moment to cross the creek, and look out onto a granite wonderland without the interruption of a forest. For the first time, I could see just how high we would be climbing in order to get to the pass. We had a number of switchbacks to climb, so I began the process I’ve come to love so much, putting one foot in front of the other. My footsteps had become the metronome for the song of my life. My breathing was in perfect harmony.

John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
Beginning to Climb
John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
Looking Back
John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
Green Life

We continued climbing up the wall of talus with the pass in sight. I was amazed at how in tune my lungs were with the surrounding air. I knew the oxygen levels were low, but my legs and lungs didn’t seem to notice. I was hiking at a pace usually reserved for low elevation climbs. I truly had my trail legs now.

John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
The Pass In Sight
John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
Alpine Lake

Before I knew it, we were standing on the border of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. The views were absolutely spectacular at Forester Pass. We took some time to enjoy the landscape, and struck up a conversation with a few other hikers.

John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
At The Pass
John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
Looking North

We began the descent from Forester Pass and it hit me just how big this day was going to be. Our goal was to reach Guitar Lake to set ourselves up for an early morning summit of Mt. Whitney. We had already hiked close to 10 miles with 3600ft of elevation gain, and we still had 16 miles to go if we wanted to reach our planned destination. Motivation came easy, as my heart and mind were intoxicated with the beauty of the Sierra, the peace of the trail, and the adrenaline from crossing a high pass.

John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
Looking South
John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
On The Trail

There were a number of beautiful lakes in view as we lost elevation and pressed onward. At the end of the downhill, we crossed a large creek and then began a winding uphill climb on the side of a hill. Towards the end of the uphill climb, the landscape started to resemble what I’ve come to know as Hollywood’s interpretation of a Martian landscape. I knew that meant we had made it to the Bighorn Plateau. It was here that I got my first glimpse of Mt. Whitney from the East.

John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
On The Plateau
John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
Views of Whitney

After the plateau, the trail once again headed downhill, this time to the Wright Creek drainage. There was a lot of shade in this area, and the day was turning out to be a warm one. At this point, we were only a few miles away from hitting 20 on the day, and my feet were starting to let me know. I feel like I can hike uphill for an eternity, but downhills beat my legs and feet up in a way that always leaves me praying for a swift end to all descents. We took a break near the water and gave our legs a chance to rest before making the final ascent of the day towards Guitar Lake.

John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
Final Downhill

The final stretch of hiking for this day was a rather pleasant one, as the trail was shaded, and paralleled a creek for quite some time. The trail really started to level out as we reached Timberline Lake, and it was at that point we knew we were very close. Julia and I were both moving pretty slow at this point, but knowing how close we were to the finish kept our spirits high.

John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
Timberline Lake
John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
Approaching Guitar Lake

When we finally arrived at Guitar Lake, we were surprised by how many tents were in the area. We had read to expect a crowd, but this was something completely unlike anything we had seen on the trail thus far. Much like Thousand Island Lake, I had to go searching for a great tent site. I’ve learned in my years of hiking, that heading uphill onto rocky surfaces will get you away from most people. The key is finding a place to pitch. It worked like a charm again this time, as I was able to find a perfect spot that had no one around.  I had packed an extra days worth of food incase were didn’t make it to Guitar Lake in one day. For the first time on the JMT, I had a true feast. It was so nice to gorge on two days worth of food for dinner!

John Muir Trail Forester Pass Guitar Lake
Guitar Lake

The only downside to camping at Guitar Lake was being hit by the realization that this would be my final night on the John Muir Trail. Much like the night before reaching Santiago when I walked the Camino, the excitement I held in my heart was bittersweet. After reaching Mt. Whitney, the journey would be over.


Read More Daily Reports From The John Muir Trail


“No matter how careful you are, there’s going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didn’t experience it all. There’s that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should’ve been paying attention.Well, get used to that feeling. That’s how your whole life will feel some day. This is all practice.” ― Chuck Palahniuk


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268 Comments
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Ian
Ian
4 years ago

The Green Life photo is amazing. So many layers.

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  Ian

Thanks, Ian! It was pretty cool to see that on the trail with the mountain reflections on the surface.

jeslin21
4 years ago

hey drew, amazing clicks..would love to visit all these places..beautiful 🙂

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  jeslin21

Thank you!

gabigabs111
4 years ago

Another long day for you. Congats on making it to your destination. Enjoyed strolling along while reading your blog entry.

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  gabigabs111

Thanks!

PaigeBrown
4 years ago

So amazing. I would love to hike the John Muir trail. These photos are just amazing, and how amazing to spend so much time in the mountains. 26 miles in a day… wow. Congrats and what an experience!

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  PaigeBrown

Thanks, Paige!

carolinehelbig
4 years ago

Congrats! What an amazing journey. Thanks for sharing your beautifully written work and gorgeous photos.

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  carolinehelbig

Thanks for reading, Caroline!

Jim Bennett
4 years ago

Great trip report and photos. This is another bucket list item for me. I’ve been hiking mostly in Desolation Wilderness this summer.

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  Jim Bennett

Thanks, Jim! I’m hoping to get some hiking up in Desolation Wilderness soon!

skrylcomputers
4 years ago

Great blog!

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  skrylcomputers

Thank you!

alondraalvarado18
4 years ago

Cool

Drew
4 years ago

Thanks!

Jun
Jun
4 years ago

I have been following your john muir trail and I too am sad that it is coming to an end. Thanks for the detailed posts. There’s not much left for me now then to do it myself. Thanks Drew!

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  Jun

Thanks, Jun! It’s always difficult to deal with such incredible journeys coming to an end. You should hike the JMT, for sure. It’s a great trek!

DIS CRIS
4 years ago

That last quote just kills me. Ugh, I haven’t even started my life, calm down. Haha. x)

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  DIS CRIS

haha!

Emma Brouwer
4 years ago

What a beautiful place. Great read!

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  Emma Brouwer

Thanks, Emma!

فكره ،🌹 مناقشه 🌹الحل 🌸

nice 🌹

Drew
4 years ago

Thank you!

فكره ،🌹 مناقشه 🌹الحل 🌸
Reply to  Drew

welcome 🌹pleas go to my peg

sesehuhun
4 years ago

So amazing !!!

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  sesehuhun

Thank you!

wandierwanders
4 years ago

I love the depths of perception in your photos!

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  wandierwanders

Thank you!

h3laman
h3laman
4 years ago

I love seeing pictures that can take you back to long forgotten hikes, meals under a star roof. the mountains are a basic need. I agree
Thanks for sharing

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  h3laman

Thank you!

Amy
Amy
4 years ago

Beautiful – I would love to go there

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  Amy

Thanks, Amy!

asocialvisionary
4 years ago

photos were all so beautiful and your very descriptive.. thanks for taking others along on your journey. Looks like a great place to visit!! Enjoyed ALL of your photos.

Drew
4 years ago

Thanks for reading along and thank you for the kind words.

kupilih
4 years ago

All photo in dry and cold but very cool !
and nice info !.

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  kupilih

Thank you!

ingaavenue
4 years ago

Wow Amazing pictures

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  ingaavenue

Thank you!

bewishbalitour
4 years ago

It is great photos 😀

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  bewishbalitour

Thank you!

Shadab.Rogers.
4 years ago

Really awesome pictures, lucky u, to see the taller mountains and the green grounds .

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  Shadab.Rogers.

Thank you! The High Sierra is a very beautiful range.

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xumoqingc
4 years ago

Good,

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  xumoqingc

Thank you!

xumoqingc
4 years ago
Reply to  Drew

This is really a nice place.And,you’re looking sharp!

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  xumoqingc

Thank you!

aryanchaurasia348
4 years ago

Reblogged this on Welcome.

jsbielicki
4 years ago

Reblogged this on psychosputnik.

Amrutha Pagad
4 years ago

loved the pics!!!

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  Amrutha Pagad

Thank you!

jelly
4 years ago

I love your photos!

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  jelly

Thank you!

honeytwinkie
4 years ago

Thanks for sharing. Fantastic.

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  honeytwinkie

Thank you!

sucihikmahwati
4 years ago

Good

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  sucihikmahwati

Thank you!

ash7win
4 years ago

These pics are amazing!!!

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  ash7win

Thank you!

shirleyjdietz
4 years ago

Reminds me of hikes I’ve taken, rather, your one day reminds me of any two days I’ve hiked. Lol.

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  shirleyjdietz

haha 🙂

gandhi555
4 years ago

Hi…how are you

Steffi Fish
4 years ago

This is awesome! I really have to go there one day. *.* Thanks for sharing this.

Cheers, Steffi

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  Steffi Fish

Thank you!

pinkkflamingos
4 years ago

Amazing photos, Timberline lake is so beautiful 🙂 Love it!

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  pinkkflamingos

Thank you!

josephtonny
4 years ago

I loved your pictures, are amazing. 🙂

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  josephtonny

Thank you!

josephtonny
4 years ago
Reply to  Drew

🙂

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  josephtonny

Thank you!

stevefedorow
4 years ago

Amazing journal of your hike. Love the pics. And as John Muir said himself, “The mountains are calling and I must go.”

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  stevefedorow

Thank you!

gretal feeson
4 years ago

Really nice post, excellent pictures

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  gretal feeson

Thank you!

leannehyland
4 years ago

This looks incredible – I literally want to get on a plane now and hike this myself!! Love the pictures 🙂

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  leannehyland

Thank you!

LauraraMonique
4 years ago

Wow, amazing!

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  LauraraMonique

Thank you!

zaphoetra
4 years ago

Reblogged this on Zaphoetra_.

Dan Thompson
4 years ago

Inspiring!!

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  Dan Thompson

Thank you!

Chiradeep Patra
4 years ago

Lovely entertainment… Great pictures and great information… Thanks a lot…

Drew
4 years ago

Thank you!

projectoffamily
4 years ago

Nice Photography work!

Drew
4 years ago

Thank you!

Q.
Q.
4 years ago

Pointsoftwo.wordpress.com

loggolag
4 years ago

First time I read one of your post, your journey must have been magnificent! I hope to “follow your path”, one day or another.

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  loggolag

Thank you! Thanks for reading!

nfrnfrsnan
4 years ago

woooowww cool man!!

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  nfrnfrsnan

Thank you!

irisgassenbauer
4 years ago

Beautiful Pictures!!!

Drew
4 years ago

Thank you!

Nipplesmurmur
4 years ago

amazing!

Drew
4 years ago
Reply to  Nipplesmurmur

Thanks!

Jozef Garcala
4 years ago

Reblogged this on Jozef Garcala and commented:
Exeptional story and beautifully captured images!

ishal23
4 years ago

Reblogged this on ishal23.

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